But on the basis that everyone else has had their say, I'll have mine. This whole reshuffle is now going to be conducted through the prism of a possible return for Ken Clarke. I hope David Cameron has his ducks lined up on that one, because if Clarke doesn't come back, the whole thing will be written off as a damp squib. The ConservativeHome line that he cannot be trusted on Europe may reflect a wide section of party opinion but it's a side issue. I have no truck with Clarke's views on Europe, but for any Conservative to believe that should be a bar to him holding office again is just plain wrong. [UPDATE: ConHome have asked me to point out that it wasn't just Clarke's views on Europe - it was welfare too]. Ken Clarke is one of the few Tory politicians who has any kind of mass appeal. He can reach outside the Conservative Party in a way others can't. And for that reason alone he is an electoral asset. It makes sense for him to take over the business brief - but it would be a mistake to drop Alan Duncan.
On his day, Alan Duncan is one of the best media performers the Tory Party has. He's also got a shed load of experience, and those who are
Alan Duncan is receiving quite a bit of friendly fire at the moment. An unnamed Tory MP tells today's Telegraph: "Just imagine the shadow business secretary is away skiing when we are going across the country to talk to people hurt by recession. And that, for a would be Business Secretary, at a time of massive economic and business upheaval. Contrast that with Peter Mandelson who has been everywhere since his return." But most of the briefing is coming from within CCHQ. I got one such briefing myself yesterday. Yesterday's Sun had an anti-Duncan quote from a "senior party official". All very unhelpful and purportedly rooted in the extent of Mr Duncan's outside interests.
YeGods. Have they learnt nothing from the last 15 years? Whoever has been doing this briefing needs to be identified, tasered and then strung up from Vauxhall Bridge for a public flogging. Strangely, I didn't get such a briefing - no doubt on the basis that the gay boys stick together. I hold no brief for Alan Duncan. Indeed, after his betrayal of David Davis in the leadership contest you might well think I had cause to welcome attacks on him. But I don't. I think he is a talented individual who, on his day, is one of the party's best communicators. If it were up to me I would offer him Transport. It may not appear to be one of the top jobs, but it's going to be a huge issue over the next few years and the post needs someone with some business background to repair the damage done over the past few months over airports policy in particular.
The other big talking point is a possible return for David Davis. I'll plead the fifth amendment on that one as previous experience tells me that anything I say is bound to be taken out of context.
I would also like to see David Trimble brought into the Shadow Cabinet, possibly replacing Owen Paterson, who is tipped for a promotion following his very successful eighteen months in the job. However, Trimble may decide that he doesn't want to be 'typecast'.
There is also speculation that in the Telegraph today that anyone who didn't attend the Shadow Cabinet northern tour this week will be for the chop. Andrew Pierce fingers David Willetts and Peter Ainsworth in particular. I'd be sorry to see Willetts go, but I agree that Ainsworth has not made enough impact in the media on the Environment brief. I would replace him with Jeremy Hunt, who would work well with Greg Clark. This would then free up Ed Vaizey to step up from his current position as number two at Culture.
An alternative would be for Caroline Spelman to take over the Culture brief. The chairman's job is tipped to go to either Eric Pickles, Chris Grayling or Jeremy Hunt. In the run-up to an election the role of chairman is to organise the campaign but also to act as a bit of an attack dog, so Pickles and Grayling would be obvious candidates. My instinct is that it will go to Grayling.
As to new entrants, I would like to see Michael Fallon brought in as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury. I'm not saying Philip Hammond has done a bad job, but I think Fallon's forensic knowledge of public spending would be an asset, especially now that some very difficult decisions are going to have to be made.
I don't see the scope for many other big moves. If DD came back that would trigger some interesting shuffling, but assuming he doesn't, I expect Gove, Grieve, Herbert, Lansley, Clark, May, Osborne, Mitchell, Fox and Hague all to stay put.
But above all, this reshuffle needs to be got out of the way so people can get on with their jobs and plan the Conservative strategy over the next six months.